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Antarctica/ South America winter 2021


kimanjo
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I see people saying the Silver Explorer Santiago to Port Williams Oct 29th has been cancelled. Ugh.  If the November 10th sailing is to go off, the ship has to get there... I see currently its position Crete, Greece.  

So maybe, they are planning to get the ship directly to Port Williams via a Transatlantic from Europe?  According to its itinerary, it is supposed to go to Australia, then Fiji, then Tahiti, then to Chile.

Disappointed for those on that sailing ( and hoping they can be accommodated on another sailing). Hope it's not the start of many more sailings, and that it's just a reaction to Australia not being open.

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1 hour ago, kimanjo said:

According to its itinerary, it is supposed to go to Australia, then Fiji, then Tahiti, then to Chile.

 

I don't know how long ago that was the plan, but it's been clear for quite a long time there would be no cruising from Australia in 2021. I believe Fiji also remains closed to visitors at this time.

 

Like you and everyone else booked on Antarctica trips this winter, I hope the cancellation of the Valparaiso to Puerto Williams cruise isn't the first piece to fall with getting passengers to Chile this winter. I'm hoping Silversea decided it wasn't worth the substantial cost of transiting the Panama Canal with an empty ship for just that one cruise on the west coast of Chile, and to instead send the ship straight to Puerto Williams from the Atlantic side. 

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9 minutes ago, cruiseej said:

 

I don't know how long ago that was the plan, but it's been clear for quite a long time there would be no cruising from Australia in 2021. I believe Fiji also remains closed to visitors at this time.

 

Like you and everyone else booked on Antarctica trips this winter, I hope the cancellation of the Valparaiso to Puerto Williams cruise isn't the first piece to fall with getting passengers to Chile this winter. I'm hoping Silversea decided it wasn't worth the substantial cost of transiting the Panama Canal with an empty ship for just that one cruise on the west coast of Chile, and to instead send the ship straight to Puerto Williams from the Atlantic side. 

 

 We're on the 1st sailing on the Cloud ( Nov 14).  Departing Punta Arenas.  It's currently in Marseille, and I suspect it will stay there? until it comes across for the winter Antartica sailings.   Is it easier to assemble crews in France? More centralized location? The expedition teams, assembling there too? 

What a planning nightmare, not knowing what countries will be open or closed in the fall/winter.

If, by October, things are looking better, not worse, can SS adapt and add a TATL? or do they sail the ship with no pax?

 

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The various ships are berthed where they are until there's reason to bring on more crew and get them ready to re-enter service. The Cloud is in Marseille, the Explorer is in Crete, and the Wind is at a shipyard in Gdansk, Poland undergoing it's ice-class modernization. I imagine all will stay in Europe until the fall, when they will move about to assemble crew and provisions prior to crossing the Atlantic. 

 

Barbara Muckermann said that they expect to get clarity about 3-4 months out -- so in the August/September timeframe for the Antartica cruises. That's probably the minimum lead time they need to get crew and supplies in place. Right now, Chile is closed to international visitors, but it's the peak of their winter season and one can expect/hope the situation with Covid will improve by their springtime, with more vaccines and more ability to be outside. Well things be enough better for them to open to tourism? By the time Silversea needs to make final decisions to go forward or not? Unfortunately, I don't think we'll get those answer for another few months. 

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5 hours ago, kimanjo said:

…or do they sail the ship with no pax?

Yes, they have sailed with no passengers in the past.  Prior to Covid, the Cloud sailed without passengers to Buenos Aires after its conversion to an expedition ship.

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Most of the Expedition lines will be making a Go/No Go decision in late August to early September. There could also be port changes or moves to Argentina from Chile or vice versa depending on the state of COVID in those countries.

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On 6/27/2021 at 1:25 PM, PaulMCO said:

Most of the Expedition lines will be making a Go/No Go decision in late August to early September. There could also be port changes or moves to Argentina from Chile or vice versa depending on the state of COVID in those countries.

Thanks for this information!  Where did you find it? We are booked on an Antarctica cruise in Februarly 2022 and I would like to monitor any news as to the status of the sailing.

Thanks, 

Anne (Smokey Angus)

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Posted (edited)

Quark communicated this to me directly and heard same from a friend who is on Silversea (also see post 4).  There is a thread on the Trip Advisor Antarctica forum where we have been exchanging info.

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1 hour ago, PaulMCO said:

Quark communicated this to me directly

 

Who is Quark?

 

In any case, this is the same information which Silversea executive Barbara Muckermann shared here and on her Facebook Live Q&A sessions at the beginning if June. Here's some of what I posted after her FB broadcast:

 

In terms of South America trips this winter, she said they expected to have clarity by August or September. But in terms of Antarctica in particular, she seemed very upbeat. Cruising to Antarctica isn't a problem; the "only" issue is getting passengers to and from the ships. For that, she said they have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D. Three of those, she said, involve bypassing Argentina. She didn't go into any more specifics, but one option could entail using Puerto Williams in Chile instead of Ushuaia, Argentina, a change they previously announced for the Silver Explorer, one of their three ships operating Antarctica cruises this winter. Another would be using Punta Arenas, which has a larger airport, but is about 150 miles north and would require more than half a day or extra sailing time going/coming from Antarctica  But she seemed confident that they would be able to get people to and from ships and sail the Antarctica season.

 

Nonetheless, the Covid situation in both Argentina and Chile remains problematic. Chile had a significant surge in cases going into their winter, although rates have been dropping recently as they have passed the mark of having more than 50% of their population vaccinated. But the country remains under a state of emergency with nightly curfews, and travel by foreigners is barred. Argentina is in worse shape. So the question is whether things will get enough better in the next 2-3 months for Silversea (and others) to make a decision they'll be able to travel there by November or December.

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Only issue is neither Puerto Arenas or Puerto Williams have the infra structure to handle expedition cruises on a large scale.  Ushuaia has the international airport, flights and hotels needed to handle this.

 

SS (which we have done on Explorer), Quark, Nat Geo, Ponant, Seabourn, Oceanwide, Atlas, plus a bunch of others use Ushuaia as a hub and all have Plan B to use Chile to save the season.

 

I think everyone's Plan B will not work.

There is a lot of pressure for Argentina to open up, especially for the summer tourist season.

I keep an eye of the Argentina vaccine rates and they are beginning to rise with 36% of the population with one dose vaccinated.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, cruiseej said:

Who is Quark?

 

1 hour ago, Fletcher said:

Like Lindblad, one of the longest established expedition/adventure travel organisations.

 

Ah, sorry, I thought you were referring to someone, not a company.

 

(Perhaps I was influenced by the character of the same name on Star Trek Deep Space Nine. 😉

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Our Explorer cruise for 2022 - Falkland-South Georgia- Tristan- South Africa changed to include an overnight in Santiago Chile - where we could be "sequestered" if necessary, and a private plane to Port Williams- Chilean military base. A very thoughtful SS response to the ongoing challenges.

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@OlsSalt  Is this a new email you receive recently from Silversea? They announced the change from Ushuaia to Puerto Williams for this winter season's Explorer cruises at the end of April, so I was just wondering if you're just now getting communication about those details.

 

It sounds like you will get a better trip south from Santiago than we will for our trip on the Silver Wind. For the Explorer trips: "Travelers will depart from a private terminal in Santiago, Chile, on a lunchtime flight reserved only for Silversea guests, with extra legroom and additional baggage allowance." The air travel is a charter with DAP Antarctic Airways, the carrier Silversea uses for their December "Antarctica Bridge" cruises where passengers fly from Punta Arenas to King George Island in Antarctica to board Explorer for a 5-day trip, bypassing Drake's passage.

 

By contrast, what I've read from previous passengers traveling from Santiago to Ushuaia, as we are scheduled to do, it's on a cramped LATAM Chile flight: bigger airline, larger plane, smaller seats, public rather than private airport terminal! And sometimes, in the wee hours of the morning to boot. 😉 

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A little off topic, I didn't want to start a new thread for just this question.  Anyone previously who has done Antarctica with Silversea ( I thought winter 2019 there were some posters here who were on those last pre-covid shutdown sailings?).  How slow was the Wifi?

DH is still a working person, who has to check and answer his emails everyday, probably once very early in the morning 5 a.m ish. and once in the p.m.  Maybe for an hour each time.   I found an old post from 2016 saying it was painfully slow.  Even just for email? Any improvement in speed since 2016?

Thanks!

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The wifi is very variable, not generally suitable for streaming.   I was able to do a little work remotely a few years back via email and it has been greatly improved since.  It is generally OK for emails.   I am not sure about "premium" wifi on an expedition to Antarctica which might speed it up a bit I think the satellite connection is the main issue but you should be OK kimanjo for the use you describe.

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17 hours ago, cruiseej said:

@OlsSalt  Is this a new email you receive recently from Silversea? They announced the change from Ushuaia to Puerto Williams for this winter season's Explorer cruises at the end of April, so I was just wondering if you're just now getting communication about those details.

 

It sounds like you will get a better trip south from Santiago than we will for our trip on the Silver Wind. For the Explorer trips: "Travelers will depart from a private terminal in Santiago, Chile, on a lunchtime flight reserved only for Silversea guests, with extra legroom and additional baggage allowance." The air travel is a charter with DAP Antarctic Airways, the carrier Silversea uses for their December "Antarctica Bridge" cruises where passengers fly from Punta Arenas to King George Island in Antarctica to board Explorer for a 5-day trip, bypassing Drake's passage.

 

By contrast, what I've read from previous passengers traveling from Santiago to Ushuaia, as we are scheduled to do, it's on a cramped LATAM Chile flight: bigger airline, larger plane, smaller seats, public rather than private airport terminal! And sometimes, in the wee hours of the morning to boot. 😉 

Yep it is generally in the wee small hours of the morning which is a bit of a bummer.   The departure is easy from Santiago airport as it has a dedicated check in and we have not (done it twice through SCL) found it irksome, in particular because of the early start the terminal has never been crowded.   The Latam aircraft is standard economy but since it is only about a third full you usually find you get three seats between two people so have a bit of space around you.   Food and drink is limited on the flight.   Grin and bear it its really not too bad and true luxury awaits you at the other end.

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13 minutes ago, labrasett said:

The wifi is very variable, not generally suitable for streaming.   I was able to do a little work remotely a few years back via email and it has been greatly improved since.  It is generally OK for emails.   I am not sure about "premium" wifi on an expedition to Antarctica which might speed it up a bit I think the satellite connection is the main issue but you should be OK kimanjo for the use you describe.

Thank you so much for the quick response.  It has been hard to get him to agree to such an exotic and extended trip while still working, so this should help him feel a little more at ease. 

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19 minutes ago, labrasett said:

Yep it is generally in the wee small hours of the morning which is a bit of a bummer.   The departure is easy from Santiago airport as it has a dedicated check in and we have not (done it twice through SCL) found it irksome, in particular because of the early start the terminal has never been crowded.   

 

I've read some people saying they had a later flight, but it makes sense that it would be an early departure for a ~3.5 hour flight to Ushuaia, in order to get through customs, get bused to lunch, and to the ship by mid-afternoon.

 

23 minutes ago, labrasett said:

The Latam aircraft is standard economy but since it is only about a third full you usually find you get three seats between two people so have a bit of space around you.

 

That would be nice. I was figuring that if they are flying most of the roughly 250 people who will be boarding the ship (perhaps minus a few who make their way to Ushuaia independently, perhaps plus a few crew replacements), and since it's not a jumbo jet, that the plane would be pretty packed. It's hard to figure how the plane would only be a third full, unless they split the passengers between two planes.

 

26 minutes ago, labrasett said:

Grin and bear it its really not too bad and true luxury awaits you at the other end.

 

Yes, if this is the "roughing it" part of the trip, we shall survive! (My knees may be a little worse for wear if I can't get an aisle seat or we don't have an empty middle seat, but they, too, shall survive.) 🙂

 

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W were told on our trip to Antarctica (another cruise line) that one cannot count on wifi services this far south due simply to the curve of the earth as one approaches the poles.

 

The beams just shoot off and do not cover this extreme south location. Old wives tales to excuse generally poor service one can encounter on ships on the high seas, or does the physics of this explanation actually make sense?

 

Whatever, be sure to confirm this if you are seriously dependent upon ready daily contact and want to travel to this remote location at the bottom (top?) of the world.. 

 

Or does this wifi explanation land in the same category as water going down the drain in the opposite direction, depending on being north or south of the equator?🙇‍♀️

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I suspect that it's to do with the orbiting positions of the satellites since ship wifi is satellite based.

 

Nothing to do with the coriolis effect which explains the water/drain phenomenon, which is true.

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6 hours ago, jollyjones said:

I suspect that it's to do with the orbiting positions of the satellites since ship wifi is satellite based.

 

Nothing to do with the coriolis effect which explains the water/drain phenomenon, which is true.

Yes, that was part of the explanation - the position of the satellites. Thanks for following up. Should the poster who needs reliable daily connections be concerned when traveling into this area?

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We had terrible WiFi on the cloud on an Arctic trip for 5 days, they advised us we would loose it due to the position of the ship, and we did. Virtually nothing for 5 days, occasionally could receive a simple WhatsApp message but that’s it. 

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I just saw this post on a Trip Advisor Antarctica site today. Maybe SS will be heading to Antarctica this year after all:
 
Antarctica 2021/22 is a GO!!!
Jul 6, 2021, 4:44 PM
Argentina just announced that they are allowing cruise ships to arrive in Ushuaia.
 
It is very encouraging to see Argentina working with the cruise operators to ensure departure and return to Ushuaia throughout the season.

Of course there is a lot that needs to be figured out - entry requirements and protocols, controls on travel to / from Ushuaia, number of passengers allowed, which countries will Argentina allow / not allow passengers from etc etc etc. But at least we have a great sign that cruising in Antarctica will be feasible this year.

 

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/tierradelfuegogob/posts/4246765542072450

Edited: 4:46 pm, today
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